SEVEN BLOCKS - SEVEN CUBES
Design Team: Jaime Correa
According to a report by Climate Central and Zillow, “by 2050, more than 386,000 existing homes in U.S. coastal areas are likely to be at risk of permanent inundation from sea level rise alone”. This mixed-use proposal is an alternative for residents who may choose to stay within affected urban areas in spite of the potential displacements and disruptions that will be caused by this modern day climate phenomenon. The project is located adjacent to the Little River area in the City of Miami – an existing industrial district along two of the most important railroad track spurs; it consists of seven mixed-use blocks accommodating about 12,000 residents and providing one oversized public space for the delight of locals and four semi-public courtyards for the enjoyment of residents on each block.
With the exception of one block containing a large central space, each peripheral block consists of a continuous arcaded base configured as a four floor retail/townhouse linear building where terraces become rooftop gardens for urban agriculture; the block base delimits four courtyards and holds up nine slender towers; each 30-floor tower contains two apartments per floor and eight unique double-floor penthouses with surrounding balustrades – in the same fashion of a Southern Plantation House.
Each 350 feet by 350 feet block contains four semi-public courtyards at ground level and twelve terraces for urban agriculture. Nine slender towers of 350 feet in height configure a minimalistic cubic gestalt which is easily legible by the human mind at a reasonable distance. It is the indifference of these blocks to the context in which they exist what brings the whole composition to a new clarity; a clarity which emphasizes the considerable stakes that non-referential architecture brings to the ideas of repetition, presence, and objecthood.
Eight unique double-floor apartments crown the top floors of the slender towers. Each penthouse apartment is surrounded by a balustrade which recalls those in Southern plantation houses. The disciplined exclusion of excesses produces an austerity of Quaker proportions; at the heart of this material austerity lies spiritual plenitude, presence being recovered through an act of absence. In the contemporary world of material excesses, this act of renunciation may sound as a grotesque quotation from Dante’s Inferno in the Divine Comedy: a collaging source that shows up as text on the ground plane of each image as well as in the diabolic figures projected through the reflecting lights.
An initial black on white sketch provides a “parti” for the general proposal. Inserted within the townscape of the City of Miami, the project looks like one more intervention for this metropolis; however, upon closer inspection, the seven new blocks and its slender towers create a new order which is rendered significant by its sheer quantity. Under the current empire of the “developer’s numbers”, this alternative proposal suggests the ideas of accumulation and agglomeration as radical views that account for the potential state of emergency in which the project is embedded. Arguably, it is only by working through this cumulative logic that it becomes possible to offer a meaningful project of pure resistance.